OLD TESTAMENT - LESSON 46
- Daniel receives a revelation in which he is shown King Nebuchadnezzar's
dream and given its interpretation.
- Daniel describes and interprets Nebuchadnezzar's dream.
A study of this lesson should strengthen our testimonies of the restored
Church of Jesus Christ and encourage us to help build the kingdom of God
- "And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar
dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake
from him" (Daniel 2:1).
READ DANIEL 2:17-19. Daniel seeks & receives
- Nebuchadnezzar: Babylonian king from about 604-562 B.C.
- He was the greatest of the Babylonian kings.
- His father, Nabopolassar, established the Babylonian empire.
- Nebuchadnezzar was fighting the Egyptians when his father died. After
making a hasty treaty with Necho of Egypt, he hurried back to Babylon to
claim the throne.
- Nebuchadnezzar conquered Syria, destroyed Jerusalem and took the surviving
Jews captive, and conquered all of Egypt.
- The city of Babylon was magnificent. The wall around the city was 60
miles around, 15 miles on each side. The wall was 300 feet high, 80 feet
thick and 35 feet below ground. "Nebuchadnezzar's Palace, where
Daniel often went, was one of the most magnificent buildings ever erected
on earth.... The south walls of the Throne Room were 20 feet thick. The
north side of the palace was protected by three walls. Just north of them
were more walls 50 feet thick. A little further on still more massive walls....
In the days of ancient warfare the city was simply impregnable!"
(Henry H. Halley's Bible Handbook quoted in Prophets and Prophecies of
the Old Testament, p488)
- Concerning the dream, the king said, "The thing is gone from
- He told his wise men (magicians, astrologers, socerers, & Chaldeans)
to both reveal the details of the dream & the interpretation upon threat
- They were unable to fulfill the request and the date for execution
of "all the wise men of Babylon" (2:12) was set. Daniel
and his friends were included.
- The captain of the king's guard came to take Daniel. "Then
Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and
that he would shew the king the interpretation" (2:16).
- WHO DID NEBUCHADNEZZAR TURN TO FOR AN INTERPRETATION OF THE DREAM?
- "the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and
the Chaldeans" (2:2).
- WHO DID DANIEL TURN TO FOR AN INTERPRETATION?
- "the God of heaven" (2:2).
- WHAT QUESTIONABLE SOURCES DO MANY PEOPLE TODAY TURN TO FOR WISDOM?
ARE WE GUILTY OF TURNING TO WRONG SOURCES?
- Politicians, astrologers, scholars, members of the church without the
appropriate keys, apostates.
- WHAT KEEPS MANY PEOPLE FROM SEEKING GOD'S GUIDANCE IN SUCH SITUATIONS?
- Consider these words from 2 Nephi 9:28, "When they are learned
they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God,
for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their
wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish."
Daniel Interprets Nebuchadnezzar's Dream
- After Daniel learned of the dream and its interpretation, he went to
Arioch (captain of the kings guard) and stated that he had an interpretation
and desired an audience before the king (2:24).
READ DANIEL 2:31-35. Daniel restated the king's
Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar's dream:
- When he was taken before the king, Daniel said, "The secret
which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the
magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king; But there is a God in heaven
that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what
shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon
thy bed, are these" (2:27-28).
WHAT DID DANIEL PROPHESY CONCERNING THIS LAST KINGDOM AND HOW IS THAT
PROPHECY BEING FULFILLED? (see verses 34-35, 44)
- READ 2:36-38. The head of gold.
- WHAT IS THE HEAD OF GOLD?
- "Thou art this head of gold" (2:38).
- Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian Empire (625-539 BC).
- READ 2:39. Breast & arms of silver.
- WHAT IS THE BREAST AND ARMS OF SILVER?
- Another kingdom inferior to Babylon.
- The Medes and the Persians (539-331 BC).
- WHAT ARE THE THIGHS OF BRASS?
- A kingdom to rule over all the earth.
- The Macedonian (Greek) empire under Alexander the Great (331-161 BC).
- READ 2:40. Legs of iron.
- WHAT ARE THE LEGS OF IRON.
- A fourth kingdom strong as iron.
- The Roman Empire (161 BC - 431 AD).
- READ 2:41-42. The feet.
- WHAT ARE THE FEET OF IRON AND CLAY?
- Divided kingdoms.
- The variety of strong and weak kingdoms which formed after the collapse
of Roman empire.
- Orson Pratt: "...the feet and toes were governments more modern
to grow out of the iron kingdom [Roman Empire], after it should lose its
strength. These are represented by the ten toes or ten kingdoms which should
be partly strong and partly broken. They should not have the strength of
the legs of iron, but they should be mixed with miry clay, indicating both
strength and weakness." (JD 18:337)
- READ 2:44-45. The stone cut out without hands.
- WHEN IS THE TIME OF THIS KINGDOM?
- It begins during the time of the last kingdom of iron and clay, or
during "the days of these kings" (2:44).
- Some Biblical scholars interpret this as a prophecy of Christ's coming
in the meridian of time. To do so, is to disregard the feet as a separate
portion of the image. (see Prophet & Prophecies of the Old Testament,
- Orson Pratt: "In those days there was no stone from the mountains,
and there were no feet and no toes to be broken in pieces. Instead of the
ancient Church fulfilling the prediction in breaking the image, events
proved a state of things directly the reverse. Some of the governments
forming the image made war with the Saints and overcame them, and the ancient
kingdom of Christ was destroyed from the earth." (JD 7:219)
- Others believe that the book of Daniel was actually written during
the Maccabean period. They then cite the image as a historical passage.
This interpretation is historically inacurate and disregards the kingdom
to be established by God.
- It is clear from the prophetic chronology, that this last kingdom will
be set up much later than the time of the Roman Empire.
- WHAT IS THE STONE?
- A kingdom set up by the God of heaven which shall never be destroyed.
- President Spencer W. Kimball: "The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints was restored in 1830 after numerous revelations from
the divine source; and this is the kingdom, set up by the God of heaven
that would never be destroyed nor superseded, and the stone cut out of
the mountain without hands that would become a great mountain and would
fill the whole earth." (Ensign, May 1976, pp8-9)
- President Ezra Taft Benson: "Our message to the world is that
the kingdom of which Daniel prophesied is now on the earth. Its early beginnings
were as inconspicuous as a small stone rolling down a mountain. Today,
partly because of its accelerated growth, The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints is no longer ignored. Prejudice has largely subsided
as people have come in contact with Mormons and their message."
(This Nation Shall Endure, p. 114.)
- President Ezra Taft Benson: "Today The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints is extending the heralded message of the restoration
of the gospel to every nation which permits us entrance through its borders.
This is a fulfillment of the vision and revelation received by Daniel,
the prophet (see Daniel 2:34-35, 44)." (Ensign, May 1978, p32)
WHAT CAN WE DO TO PARTICIPATE IN THE BUILDING OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD
IN OUR HOMES, IN OUR COMMUNITIES, AND THROUGHOUT THE WORLD?
- "a stone was cut out without hands" (v34).
- WHAT DID IT MEAN THAT THE STONE WOULD BE "CUT OUT WITHOUT HANDS"?
- In a very literal sense, the kingdoms that preceded this last kingdom
were in fact cut out using hands. Earlier in this lesson I made reference
to the magnificence of Babylonia. The stone used in its great buildings
and walls was cut out by men. Rome and Greece were known for their great
buildings, many which still stand today. These were kingdoms and empires
built by men and literally cut out by the hands of men.
- This last kingdom would not be "cut out" with hands. Though
men are involved in the building of this kingdom, its essential building
blocks came through heavenly messengers under the direction of God himself.
- Bruce R. McConkie: "Here we have seen the kingdoms of this
world, kingdoms drenched in blood and held together by the arm of flesh,
one following another until the set time for the great latter-day restoration
of all things. Then a stone is cut out of the mountain without hands and
a kingdom is set up by the God of heaven. It is a new kind of kingdom.
The arm of flesh plays no part in its creation. It is created without man's
hand. It comes from God. It is established by revelation. It is the Church
and kingdom of God on earth." (Millennial Messiah, p131)
- It is not possible for men to set this kingdom up on their own. Since
the great apostasy, many men (most well intentioned) have attempted to
set up the kingdom of God. But this kingdom would not be "cut out"
with hands. While on my mission, I had the opportunity to use the old Lamanite
discussions. In one of those lessons there is a picture of a deer head
trophy hanging on a wall. It looks like a deer. It feels like a deer. But
there is no life in this trophy. The question is asked if one can make
that deer come alive. No man can do it. Only God can restore that deer.
And thus it is with God's kingdom or church, only God can put life in it.
Many men have tried to make their church look like God's church, but none
have succeeded because only God can give it life.
- It "became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth"
- Consider the following statistics regarding the growth of the Church:
- And the end of 1997, there were wards and branches in 143 nations and
19 territories and possessions. (Source for above statistics: Old Testament
Gospel Doctrine Teacher's Manual, p217 & Ensign, May 1998, p22)
- Is there any question that this ancient prophecy is in the process
of being fulfilled?
- This kingdom "shall never be destroyed" (v44).
- All other kingdoms in Daniel's prophecy would eventually meet their
end. Such would not be with the kingdom set up by God.
- President Ezra Taft Benson: "This work will prevail in spite
of all the opposition which might be mustered against it. This work will
prevail! It will never be thrown down or given to another people (Daniel
2:44; D&C 138:44). God's kingdom has been established upon the earth
for the last time in preparation for the second coming of the Master. We
have the word of Jesus Christ whose name this Church bears to that effect."
(Teachings of ETB, p394)
- "the kingdom shall not be left to other people" (v44).
- I think this is another way of say that this kingdom shall never be
destroyed. As we look back at the history of the great kingdoms mentioned
in Daniel's prophecy, we see that they not only met their end, but were
taken over by another people or government. Even the kingdom established
by our Lord in the meridian of time was taken over by other people. Such
will not be the case with the "stone...cut out of the mountain".
- "it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms"
- Bruce R. McConkie: "And what of the other kingdoms? This eternal
kingdom, this kingdom which shall never be destroyed, this kingdom which
is the new and everlasting kingdom, shall break in pieces and consume all
kingdoms. It shall make a full end of all nations; they shall vanish as
the chaff before the summer breeze and shall not be found on earth. And
the new kingdom shall not be left to any other people; never again will
there be a general apostasy; the Church of the God of heaven will be set
up on earth to stand forever." (Millennial Messiah, p131)
- President Gordon B. Hinkley: "This Church is true. It will
weather every storm that beats against it. It will outlast every critic
who rises to mock it. It was established by God our Eternal Father for
the blessing of His sons and daughters of all generations. It carries the
name of Him who stands as its head, even the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior
of the world. It is governed and moves by the power of the priesthood.
It sends forth to the world another witness of the divinity of the Lord.
be faithful, my friends. Be true. Be loyal to the great things of God which
have been revealed it this dispensation." (Ensign, Sept. 1985,
Daniel was privileged to see much of the history of the world from his
day forward. As we review that history, we see the rise and fall of remarkable
kingdoms. And yet Daniel saw one more kingdom that would rise, fill the
earth, and stand forever. We are blessed and privileged to be part of that
kingdom. Do we appreciate the importance of this? The ancient Greek and
Roman empires were considered among the greatest of all time, and yet,
we are part of a kingdom that will dwarf these remarkable empires from
history. We should catch Daniel's vision and strive to do all that we can
in building God's kingdom on earth.
Lesson 48: Zechariah 10-14; Malachi
Additional Reading: D&C 45
Note: I have a tradition in my class of using the last Sunday
of the year for "The Annual Quiz". The annual quiz is a light-hearted
competition between two sides of the class in answering questions from
the course study for the year. In order to use the last Sunday of December
for the quiz, I will be skipping Lesson 47 and concluding the Old Testament
study with Lesson 48.
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